My standard rant ... The road to HD MUST go through Anamophic Standard Definition digital component, then you ADD full HD programming one show at a time until you have a full scheduled lineup....
This way you drive the consumer to purchase 16x9 sets and digital receivers and in turn they get a better picture and MORE scene than the old NTSC Analog broadcasts , a CLEAR cut advantage to MOVE to DIGITAL , and that's the END of the Chicken and the Egg stalemate folk's !!!
If you can't afford true HD right off the bat, then you should do the following, At LEAST we would get true 16x9 this way on almost ALL primetime programming regardless of whether it is posted in HD! :
Use a full component Standard def anamorphic widescreen distribution of all programming , the VAST majority of which IS being post produced in true FULL height anamorphic.
TRY to process all transmission paths through a station as full digital component SDI.
Then you drive an upconverter prior to ATSC encoder using this full height Anamorphic component video , Then for legacy , at the LAST SDI point before the transmission circuit is turned back into the NTSC format , insert an ASPECT RATIO converter that can be driven remotely tracking from line 23 VITS WS signaling embedded in the signal from it's SOURCE thus allowing for real time center-cut pan&scan, 14x9 letterboxing or God forbid on the RARE event deep 16x9 letterboxing.
It really is THAT simple ! and should have been done that way 2 years ago!. If/When you want to add HD Programming you can just A/B switch between HD distribution and the O/P from the upconverter.... You still need the SDi infrastructure for News and non prime programing that will never warrant true HD production , also commercials.
SINGLE inventory on the Standard Def side of the operation , EVERY other format be it upconvert or ARC legacy can be derived from the parent Anamorphic SD version...
YOU ADD HD PROGRAMMING ONE SHOW AT A TIME as you can afford it until your schedule is full ... A very simple plan , why can't they get it together ?
It sounds simple because it IS simple !...